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The Stritch School of Medicine of Loyola University Chicago has conducted a recent study. The study revealed that the omega-3 found in fish oil helps protect against brain damage caused by alcohol abuse.
Based on previous research studies, alcohol abuse is known to cause brain damage and increase the risk of dementia. Alcohol abuse can lead to alcoholism, which is considered a disease. The most common problem associated with alcoholism is liver disorder. However, many alcoholics are prone to having long-term mental problems and many physical disorders. Alcohol abuse can alter the balance of chemicals and processes of the brain. Some of these damages are irreversible.
There was a study conducted that revealed the consumption of alcohol at moderate levels may reduce cognitive impairment and dementia in later life. Moderate consumption of alcohol tends to make the brain cells tougher, allowing them to recover from damage easily. However, an excessive amount of alcohol overwhelms the cells. Hence, it results to neuroinflammation and cell death.
The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, together with the University of Kentucky, conducted a research study to investigate the extent of the reduction of brain damage using omega-3 fish oil. This research study was conducted using adult rat brain cells.
In the research study, the cell cultures were exposed to alcohol concentrations equivalent to four times the legal limit for driving over several days. The level of exposure is equivalent to chronic alcoholics’ experience. These brain cultures were compared to other cultures that were exposed to same levels of alcohol but had omega 3 compound added to it.
The researchers observed that neuroinflammation and neuronal death of the brain cells exposed to omega 3 were reduced by up to 90 percent, compared to the cell cultures exposed to alcohol only.
Fish oil contains the ability to preserve function in chronic alcohol abusers. It can improve the brain power. However, the research team led by Michael Collins, Ph.D., state that they need to conduct further studies in order to confirm the findings. Also, the team does not want people to think that they can continue to abuse alcohol and combat the effects with fish oil capsules. Collins stated that the best way to avoid brain damage caused by alcohol abuse is to reduce the drinking to low or moderate amounts, or to give up alcohol entirely.
The researchers found that the lateral habenula region of the brain was inactivated in a group of rats. The rats have escalated their drinking quickly compared to the control group of rats. Based on this study, the rats with inactive lateral habenulas were not able to learn from their bad experiences compared to the control rats who were able to modify their behavior to avoid a hangover.
Further studies need to be conducted to human beings in order to determine the positive benefits of fish oil to brain damage. It may take years to achieve the aforementioned studies, but current research studies are a good start.
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